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Al-Asad v. Djibouti: Landmark Extraordinary Rendition Case before the African Commission

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm

In the near absence of accountability at the national level for human rights abuses against victims of US’s extraordinary rendition program­­­­—regional human rights bodies are playing a more significant role in attempting to hold States responsible for their complicity in this global practice.

Filed by the Global Justice Clinic at NYU School of Law in collaboration with the London-based Interights, the landmark case hopes to expose the extent of complicity of Djibouti in US’s rendition and secret detention program.  The application was filed confidentially in December 2009 and was made public late last month. The Commission has yet to rule on the admissibility of the case.

The victim in the case, Mohammed al-Asad, a Yemini national, was arrested in his home in Tanzania in late 2003 and was allegedly flown to Djibouti “where he was detained in a secret Djiboutian prison, interrogated by an American agent, and subjected to torture and inhuman treatment for approximately two weeks.” Subsequently, during his transfer to a CIA rendition team, al-Asad was subjected to a “shock capture” technique where he was “stripped and assaulted” before being chained, hooded, and forced onto an airplane. Al-Asad was then transferred “into a network of secret CIA prisons in Afghanistan and Eastern Europe” before he was finally released in Yemen.

The case draws further attention to the justice that has been denied to victims of this Bush-era clandestine program. All the domestic US cases, including El-Masri, Arar and Jeppeson, brought in relation to the extraordinary rendition program have been dismissed in light of the state secret privilege.  The US government has failed to provide even a modicum of redress to alleged victims. Unlike the Canadian government’s treatment of Maher Arar, no formal apologies or adequate compensation has been provided to abuse victims. As a result, victims are increasingly relying on regional human rights bodies or States with Universal Jurisdiction laws for recourse.

A similar application was also filed in Sept. 2009 at the European Court of Human Rights by the Open Society Institute, on behalf of Khalid El-Masri, against the State of Macedonia for its complicity in the rendition program.

Full coverage of case is at Interights’ site:

http://www.interights.org/al-Asad/index.htm

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